United Republic of Tanzania : Constitution and politics


Republic with Executive President
Parliament of Tanzania
9 December 1961 (mainland), 10 December 1963 (Zanzibar)

The unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, includes some members directly elected by universal adult suffrage (in 239 constituencies in 2010), some women members nominated by the parties in proportion to the number of seats they hold in the Assembly (102 following the October 2010 election), up to ten presidential appointees, five delegates from the Zanzibar parliament and, ex officio, the Attorney-General. General elections are held every five years.

The executive President is elected in separate presidential elections held simultaneously with general elections. He or she must represent a registered political party and have a running mate for the position of Vice-President of the Union. The President may serve a maximum of two five-year terms.

The Zanzibar administration has its own President and a House of Representatives of 50 directly elected members, 15 female nominees (by the parties in proportion to the number of seats they hold in the House), ten presidential nominees, and five ex officio members; one seat is reserved for the Attorney-General. The House is responsible for legislation on domestic matters and, in practice, external trade.

From October 2000, use of the full official name of United Republic of Tanzania was adopted.


In October 2000, in the United Republic’s second multiparty elections, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) leader Benjamin Mkapa won more than 70 per cent of the votes in the national presidential election, and the ruling CCM took 244 seats in the National Assembly, with the balance of 31 seats won by the Zanzibar-based Civic United Front (CUF; 15) and smaller parties.

Presidential and legislative elections were held in Zanzibar in October 2005 ahead of the national elections. The CCM’s candidate, Abeid Amani Karume, won the presidential poll with 53 per cent of the votes, while the CUF’s Seif Sharif Hamad took 46 per cent. The ruling CCM also won the parliamentary elections with 30 of the 50 elective seats. The CUF did not accept the result of these fiercely contested, and in places violent elections but the Commonwealth observer group present said that the conditions overall were such as to enable the people to express their will.

In December 2005 the CCM was also successful in the national presidential and legislative elections. Having served two full terms Mkapa was not eligible to stand again for the presidency and, in a 73 per cent turnout, CCM candidate Jakaya Kikwete was elected President. CCM took 206 seats in the National Assembly, with Zanzibar-based CUF (19 seats) accounting for most of the rest.

In the October 2010 national presidential election, with a turnout of 42 per cent, Kikwete was returned with 61.2 per cent of the votes cast, while Willbrod Slaa of Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) secured 26.3 per cent and Ibrahim Lipumba (CUF) 8.1 per cent. In the concurrent parliamentary elections the CCM won 186 of the 239 directly-elected seats, the CUF 24 and CHADEMA 23. In Zanzibar, CCM’s Ali Mohamed Shein narrowly won the presidency with 50.1 per cent of the votes cast; his main challenger Seif Sharif Hamad of the CUF received 49.1 per cent.

The Tanzanian general election of 2015 was the 5th quinquennial election to be held since the restoration of the multi-party system in 1992. Voters elected the president, members of Parliament, and local government councillors. By convention, the election was held on the last Sunday of October and was supervised by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Political campaigns commenced on 22 August and ceased a day before the polling day.

On 29 October, CCM's Dr John Joseph Magufuli was declared the winner ahead of Chadema's Lowassa.

Head of government

John Pombe Magufuli, President
John Pombe Joseph Magufuli (born 29 October 1959) is the President of Tanzania, in office since 2015. First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995, he served in the Cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works for a second time from 2010 to 2015. He won the October 2015 Presidential Election and was sworn in on 5 November 2015.